Earlier this week proposed hikes in the state's hunting and fishing license fees passed in the House in a 77-32 vote. The proposal now goes on to the state Senate for consideration. Although we take a dim view of government imposing more fee increases on the citizens of Michigan, these rate hikes are justified and worthwhile. They will, in the long run, improve hunting and fishing opportunities in Michigan. That's good news for the Delta County area.
The proposal would create a base hunting license costing $11 for residents with lower rates for youths and seniors. Out-of-state hunters would pay $151. The base license would pay for hunting waterfowl, migratory birds and small game such as rabbits. Separate fees would be levied for hunting certain species, and some of those would increase: Tags for deer would rise from $15 to $20, and the bear license from $15 to $25. A 24-hour fishing license would increase from $7 to $10. The fee for a seasonal all-species license would drop from $28 to $25 for Michigan residents, but rise from $42 to $75 for out-of-state anglers. If passed, they would begin in March 2014.
It has been quite some time since there was a significant increase in the state's hunting and fishing fees - 1997, 16 years ago - to be exact. How far did your dollar go in 1997? It's a sure bet it doesn't have the same purchase power today. The State of Michigan is in the same boat. It costs more to get things done, including operating wildlife, fisheries and habitat programs. This is where the money raised from the license fee increases would go. In fact, it will raise $20 million more for the programs designed to improve hunting and fishing opportunities.
This is not only needed, but will be a plus for the local area. U.P. residents embrace the tradition of hunting and fishing will benefit from these enhanced programs. The added attention to hunting, fishing and wildlife programs may also bring more people to the area to enjoy these activities. Tourism dollars are always welcome and the more the better.
Many outdoor groups support these common sense increases in hunting and fishing fees. We agree with them. The increased cost will be money well spent.